“The Knights of the Twin Tail” squadron
the F-15 takes photos of targets outside Israel without actually crossing the borders
“Those missions are highly complicated because it is in fact two missions rolled into one” Trainings of combat squadrons are usually dealing with attack missions and interceptions. But “The Knights of the Twin Tail” squadron operating F-15A/B/D, focuses on additional task: Aerial intelligence gathering via photography. Meet the combat squadron that sees everything
Michal Khayut | Translation: Eden Sharon
The aircrews of “The Knights of the Twin Tail” squadron take off for operational flights on a daily basis.
Sometimes the mission ends with a deafening explosion sound but sometimes the mission produces a single click sound and the jet-fighters are gone. Gathering Intelligence by aerial photography is a major practice of the squadron.
Since its invention, aerial photography has great intelligence potential for air forces around the world and the photos can be taken in two ways: diagonally and vertically. When photographing vertically, the plane needs to be exactly over the area it is photographing.
“In the past, the vertical technique was very popular” says Captain M’, who served as the photography officer of the squadron. “Today, due to the current threats and the new technology we acquired, we mostly use diagonally photography”.
In the diagonal way, the F-15 takes photos of targets outside Israel without actually crossing the borders.
“Our sensors provide high-quality photos, so we do not necessarily need to enter enemy territory”, adds Lieutenant Omer, the current photography officer of the squadron.
The squadron gets forecast updates way before it reaches the screens. “When a sunny weather is expected, we are the first to know because it means we will have more intelligence mission to carry out”, explains Major David, the squadron deputy commander, in charge of the photography missions.
During wartime, the squadron operates intensively in both fields: Attacking targets alongside other combat squadrons and gathering aerial intelligence over areas of interest.
“Obviously, the number of photographing sorties increases during war and include warfare area and other strategic areas”, says Captain M.
Fighter jets are not the only providers of aerial intelligence in the IAF: transport aircraft and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) provide a wider situation report of the events.
Even so, each of the platforms has unique advantages and the missions vary: The size of the F-15 enables it to carry heavier, better photographing equipment. Additionally, the F-15 can defend itself during high-risk missions. If needed, the fighter jet can also carry out an integrated mission.
“It is very rear”, determines Captain M’. “But it is possible for a plane to take off carrying weapons and photography gear. Those missions are highly complicated because it is in fact two missions rolled into one”.